France, Google & The Need for Digitization Project Cooperation

A month after we posted on the head of the France’s national library (Bibliothèque nationale de France) being concerned with Google’s ambitious program to digitize library materials from several large libraries “favouring Anglo-Saxon ideas and the English language.” Whatever. To think that large university libraries that Google is working with don’t have thousands of resources (books) that discuss a variety of topics from a variety of viewpoints is silly, IMHO.

Today we’re reading about President Jacques Chirac of France calling for a European project to digitize library books. Here’s a translation of Chirac’s statement.

That said, it’s not that Chirac’s idea is a bad one. The more materials that are digitized and made easily findable (searchability and findability are separate issues) the better. However, it would be great if large digitization projects could cooperate to save time, money, and avoid duplication.

Finally, this article makes me a bit upset. Why? It and many others like it make seem like Google is the only organization digitizing books in one form or another. Note to journalists, they’re not!

What about the impressive initiative from The Internet Archive? What about Project Gutenberg? What about smaller but nonetheless important digitization projects from libraries located around the world? What about organizations like ebrary and NetLibrary? Heck, what about publishers like The National Academies Press that provide free full text access to all of their publications? Btw, for a few of my favorite directories to find some of the many books that have been digitized, take a look at this post.

UPDATE: While we’re on the topic of Google Print and libraries, Tara points us to this Harvard Crimson article: Harvard-Google Project Faces Copyright Woes. I can say that this article isn’t all that surprising. Also, this article by library legend Roy Tennant might be of interest. Roy talks about how many librarians at Stanford have very few details about how the Google Print program will work.

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